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Energy Flow through Ecosystems.

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Emily 12JS Energy Flow through Ecosystems 25/01/02 Introduction Energy cannot be recycled, created or destroyed; it can only be transferred from one form to another. In most ecosystems, the original source of energy is the sun. Energy is lost from an ecosystem when it is used up or when lost as heat. It flows through an ecosystem in a food chain. Only 10% of energy present in a particular trophic level can be found in the successive trophic level of that food chain. This means that in order to provide enough energy to consumers, the number of organisms that can be supported goes down ascending trophic levels. Primary producers Primary production is the 'synthesis and storage of organic molecules during growth and reproduction of photosynthetic organisms.' Primary producers are called autotrophs because they manufacture their own nutrition. The most commonly known producers are plants. The plants use red and blue wavelengths from sunlight to carry out the process of photosynthesis i.e. ...read more.


Chemoautotrophs obtain all of their energy from chemical reactions, which they use to synthesize organic molecules. Nitrogen fixing bacteria, found in soil are chemoautotrophs. They convert ammonia into nitrites or nitrites into nitrates; which is an oxidation reaction, causing energy to be released. The bacteria use this energy to synthesize carbohydrates and simple organic molecules using carbon dioxide and water. Bacterium found near ocean beds and those near volcanic vents obtain energy through chemical reactions, as sunlight is unable to reach such depths. Primary consumers of these bacterium include marine worms. Energy Flow through an Ecosystem Eventually, all living matter dies and becomes detritus; the food,which detrivores (decomposers such as bacteria and fungi) consume. Although the energy flow on earth is an open system i.e. solar radiation enters the earth constantly, the flow of energy is not natural. Human influence has affected the energy flow in the ecosystem. Fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal are extracted from the ground and when combusted, the release vast quantities of energy, and also energy lost as heat. ...read more.


Usually, the size of each organism increases, ascending the pyramid Pyramids of Biomass It represents the biomass (number of individuals x mass of each individual) at each trophic level at a specific moment in time. It should prevent inversion problems, which may occur in pyramids of number. Pyramids of Energy It represents the flow of energy through each trophic level of an ecosystem during a fixed time period (usually one year to account for seasonal .) It compares productivity over time, hence no inversions occur. Conclusion Energy flowing through an ecosystem usually originates from the sun, which is transferred to primary consumers by photoautotrophs. Alternatively, chemoautotrophs, such as bacteria found near ocean beds, synthesize energy from chemical reactions and pass on this energy to consumers such as marine worms. Energy is used to assimilate organic compounds and is lost through heat and respiration. Only about 10% of the energy ingested by a consumer is passed on to the next trophic level, as systems e.g. the human system is not 100% efficient. Energy loss through an ecosystem can be observed ascending pyramids of number, biomass and energy. ...read more.

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